Figured I should write this down while I can still remember it.
I was at work on 9/11/01. At about ten minutes to nine, a coworker mentioned there'd just been a report on the radio that a "small plane" had struck one of the towers of the World Trade Center. My department was much bigger then, five of us plus the boss. We stood around for a bit chatting about how a small plane had hit the Empire State Building in the 1940s. Then news of a second plane strike came from the radio. The boss always had on NPR in his office, while a couple of my coworkers always listened to Howard Stern in the mornings. I tried to get on the internet, but our work connection wasn't much better than dialup back in 2001, and CNN and Yahoo News were bogged down and not loading. We didn't have a television in the office, so all we had were the radio reports. I can't remember if I called my mom at home first or she called me, but there were a number of calls made back and forth getting relayed info from TV. Someone in the office said they'd just heard that the Pentagon had been hit by a bomb. Fairly sure I was on the phone again with my mom at home when the first tower collapsed. Coworkers kept talking of reports of more hijacked planes, and someone said they'd heard a fighter jet had shot one down. We heard that all planes in the air had been ordered to land. From our office windows, we could see all the jets lining up on the main approach route into the Cleveland Airport, to the northeast over Lake Erie, six, seven, eight deep. Then came word we should go home, the mayor was ordering downtown to evacuate.
Strangely, the traffic heading out was not that bad. I put on Howard Stern so I could continue hearing news from NYC. I remember I stopped for gas on the way home, figuring the price was going to jump the next day. It wasn't until I got home that I heard that there'd been reports (later found to be false) that another hijacked plane had been heading for Cleveland (and later on, it came out that air traffic control here had been the ones that heard the broadcasts from Flight 93). The rest of the day, I mostly just sat and watched the news. Saw CNN replay the footage from the WTC and the Pentagon. I must have stayed up until 2 or 3 in the morning, waiting to hear just one report that someone, anyone had been found alive in the rubble.
Still leaves me numb to think back about it all. After ten years, all the people who were my coworkers that morning have moved on to other employers and/or moved away, so I don't really even have anyone with a common experience of that morning to talk to anymore. I didn't directly know anyone who was lost that day, but it was still like a punch in the gut nonetheless.
Tags: 9/11, writer's block